Why Do Skateboard Wheels Turn Yellow? Reasons And Solutions

Avid skateboarders may have noticed a peculiar phenomenon: their once pristine, white skateboard wheels gradually turn yellow over time. In this article, we’ll delve into the science behind this discoloration and uncover the factors that contribute to it and will discuss precautions needed to prevent them turning from turning yellow.

Understanding the Composition of Skateboard Wheels

Before we dive into the reasons behind yellowing skateboard wheels, it’s important to understand their composition. Skateboard wheels are typically made from polyurethane (PU) material, a durable and versatile polymer. PU wheels provide the necessary grip and traction for skateboarding on various surfaces while offering a smooth ride.

The Oxidation Process

One of the primary causes of Skateboard Wheels Turning Yellow is the oxidation process. When skateboard wheels are exposed to sunlight and air over time, a chemical reaction occurs within the polyurethane (PU) material they are made of. This reaction is known as oxidation, and it leads to discoloration of the wheels. Oxidation is a natural process that involves the interaction of the PU material with oxygen in the air. 

Additionally, environmental factors such as heat and humidity can contribute to the oxidation process. Higher temperatures and increased moisture levels can enhance the chemical reactions occurring within the polyurethane material, further accelerating the yellowing of the wheels.

It’s important to note that oxidation is a natural consequence of the materials used in skateboard wheels, and it will occur regardless of how well you maintain them. However, by implementing proper maintenance

UV Exposure and Yellowing

Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun play a significant role in the yellowing process. When skateboard wheels are exposed to sunlight, the UV radiation interacts with the PU material, breaking down its molecular bonds. This UV-induced degradation alters the physical properties of the material and contributes to yellowing skateboard wheels.

Air Pollution and Environmental Factors

Skateboarding often takes place in outdoor environments where pollution levels can vary. Airborne pollutants such as smog, dust, and pollutants from vehicles can accumulate on the surface of skateboard wheels. These particles can adhere to the wheels and, combined with UV exposure, accelerate the yellowing process.

Natural Aging and Wear

Skateboard wheels undergo a significant amount of wear and tear during regular use, which contributes to their yellowing over time. As skateboarders ride and perform tricks, their wheels come into constant contact with various surfaces, resulting in friction and impact.

The outer layer of skateboard wheels gradually wears down due to this continuous friction. The wear and tear expose the underlying layers of the polyurethane material, which are more susceptible to oxidation. As a result, the exposed layers begin to undergo chemical changes, leading to the yellowing appearance of the wheels. If you want to learn about the durability of the wheels read our blog How Long Do Skateboard Wheels Last?

Maintenance and Prevention

Proper maintenance and preventive measures can significantly slow down the process of skateboard wheels turning yellow, keeping them in better condition for longer. Here are some essential practices to consider:

  1. Regular Cleaning: Clean your skateboard wheels regularly to remove dirt, grime, and pollutants that can accelerate yellowing. Use a mild soap or skateboard-specific cleaner and water to gently scrub the wheels. Avoid using harsh chemicals that may damage the polyurethane material.

  2. Storage: When your skateboard is not in use, store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Excessive exposure to sunlight and heat can speed up oxidation. 
  3. Protective Bags or Cases: If you frequently travel with your skateboard or store it in areas prone to sunlight or pollution, consider using a protective bag or case. These enclosures provide an additional layer of defense against UV rays and environmental contaminants.

We have a detailed blog post on skateboard maintenance read it to get more assistance

Knowing When to Replace Skateboard Wheels

Eventually, even with proper maintenance, skateboard wheels will reach a point where replacement is necessary. Factors such as excessive wear, loss of performance, and diminished grip indicate the need for new wheels. Check out this article When to Replace Skateboard Wheels? for a detailed guide on determining the optimal time to replace your wheels.

Closing Thoughts

Yellowing skateboard wheels are a common occurrence due to the natural oxidation process influenced by UV exposure, air pollution, and wear. Understanding the science behind this discoloration can help skateboarders better maintain their wheels and prolong their lifespan. Remember to follow proper maintenance practices and consider replacement when necessary. Wheels also play an important role in skateboard speed to learn how to increase speed visit our blog How To Make Your Skateboard Faster?

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